PAINLESS DELIVERY (epidural)
PAINLESS NORMAL DELIVERY
The painless delivery was possible through administration of epidural analgesia to the woman after she set into labour. “Epidural helps to relieve the pain while the woman is fully conscious and helps in reducing the stress associated with the labour pains,” she added. It would help the woman to get back to her routine as quickly as possible after delivery.
Painless delivery has to be constantly monitored by experienced and trained anesthetist, along with the gynecologists, obstetricians.
INHUMAN LABOUR PAIN:
Labour pain is rated as severe by most women who do not receive pain relief. With advent of modern medicine and availability of techniques with skilled practioners, it is now considered ‘inhuman’ not to relieve the pain of labour. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says “Labour results in severe pain for many women. There is no other circumstance where it is considered acceptable for a person to experience untreated severe pain, amenable to safe intervention, while under a physician’s care”.
Just like surgery is never done without anaesthesia, so also techniques are available to ensure painless delivery. Receiving pain relief in labour is not a pre-requisite for delivery! It is dependent on your tolerance level and the choice you want to make.
WHAT IS EPIDURAL?
Epidural is a small injection placed in your lower back, through which a fine tube (epidural catheter), the size of a thread, is passed into your back. Drugs can be injected through this tube to facilitate painless normal delivery. These drugs are local anaesthetics which cause numbing of the nerves and pain sensation without affecting the ability to move. These drugs are also very safe for the baby. With an epidural in place, you may feel the contractions, but they will not be painful.
WHY HAVE AN EPIDURAL?
- Epidural is the best method of pain relief in labour, among all the options available.
- Epidural can allow you to rest, relax, get focused and give you the strength to move forward as an active participant in birthing. By reducing the discomfort of childbirth, most women have a more positive birth experience.
- If you deliver by caesarean section, the same epidural can be used to provide anaesthesia during the operation and effective pain relief during recovery.
- When other types of coping mechanisms are no longer helping, an epidural can help you deal with exhaustion, irritability and fatigue. And, it ensures that you have painless labour and delivery.
Epidural analgesia causes significant reduction in pain. In fact, it is the most effective method for painless labour and delivery. Compared to when you did not have an epidural, there will be a significant reduction of pain and discomfort. All the same, you will feel some pressure symptoms and some tightness with contractions. Sometimes, especially towards the last part of labour, there will be discomfort related to the pressure effect of the baby’s head in the perineal area. These symptoms can also be removed if a “stronger dose’ of medicine is given, but there may be a risk of causing muscle block and inability to push to deliver the baby.
ADVERSE EFFECTS & COMPLICATIONS
- Epidural can cause a drop in your blood pressure. To decrease this risk, you will be given fluids through an intravenous line.
- Some women may have itching which disappears when the epidural is stopped. Medication can be given to relieve the sensation.
- An epidural may prolong the second stage of labour and reduce the urge to bear down. Occasionally this may result in you having an instrumental delivery.
- One in 100 women may develop severe headache after an epidural. It is called post dural puncture headache and can be treated.
- About one in 2000 mothers gets a feeling of tingling or pins and needles down one leg after having a baby. Such problems are more likely to result from childbirth itself than from an epidural.
- A small number of women may experience numbness or heaviness in the legs. It usually wears off once the epidural is discontinued. The risk of any permanent damage is extremely low.
A large amount of research has been done on this topic and it is clear that epidural per se does not influence the rate of cesarean section. A proportion of women planning normal delivery will end up having a cesarean section. This proportion remains the same with or without an epidural.